Afghan Woman First Raped, Then Charged With Adultery- EU Bans Documentary

The European Union (EU) has blocked the release of a documentary on Afghan women who are in jail for so-called “moral crimes.”

The EU says it decided to withdraw the film, which it commissioned and paid for, because of “very real concerns for the safety of the women portrayed.” A statement from the EU’s Kabul delegation said the welfare of the women was the paramount consideration in its decision.

Human rights workers beg to disagree and say the injustice in the Afghan judicial system should be exposed.

Why Are Afghan Women Imprisoned?

According to the BBC, half of Afghanistan’s women prisoners are inmates for “zina” or moral crimes. But many of the women convicted of “zina” are guilty of nothing more than running away from forced marriages or violent husbands. In other words, hundreds of those behind bars are not criminals but victims of domestic violence.

That’s where this documentary enters the picture.

Karen Day is a Boise-based freelance writer who was in Parwan writing about a detention center the U.S. was turning over to the Afghan government when she was drawn to another story.

Women Imprisoned For Refusing To Marry Men Who Raped Them

The topic: women imprisoned for “moral crimes” — things like fleeing forced marriages and abusive husbands. She discovered that some women are locked up for alleged or actual adultery, or refusing to marry men who raped them.

Even the most conservative estimates indicate that more than half of the hundreds of women and teenage girls in Afghan prisons have been convicted of moral crimes.

The EU commissioned Development Pictures to produce a documentary highlighting women’s rights issues, but then subsequently suppressed it due to political reasons. The documentary tells the story of a 19-year-old prisoner called Gulnaz.

Gulnaz Was Raped, Then Charged With Adultery

From the BBC:

After Gulnaz was raped, she was charged with adultery. Her baby girl, born following the rape, is serving her sentence with her.

“At first my sentence was two years,” Gulnaz said, as her baby coughed in her arms. “When I appealed it became 12 years. I didn’t do anything. Why should I be sentenced for so long?”

A decade after the Taliban were overthrown, Afghan women are still waiting for justice, campaigners say.

Heather Barr, of Human Rights Watch, said: “It’s very important that people understand that there are these horrific stories that are happening now – 10 years after the fall of the Taliban government, 10 years after what was supposed to be a new dawn for Afghan women.”

For many that new dawn has not come, but for Gulnaz there is now the hope of freedom.

Her name is on a list of women to be pardoned, according to a prison official, but as she has no lawyer, the paperwork has yet to be processed.

Gulnaz’s pardon may be in the works because she has agreed – after 18 months of resisting – to marry her rapist.
“I need my daughter to have a father,” she said, according to the BBC.

Check out the disputed film trailer here.

Take Action Now

If you believe this treatment of Afghan women is outrageous, please click here to sign our petition calling on Presidents Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai to give Afghan women the due process they deserve.

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Photo Credit: DVIDSHUB


Amandine S.
Past Member 4 years ago

It makes me sick, the laws in this country are so unfair and disgusting...

Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege4 years ago

Thank you for this article. I'm pleased to hear that she has been released. Which was not obvious.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Ameer T “Average Americans misguidedly believe that they are fighting for a noble cause, sending their children to false wars, under false flags, funding the wars with their tax dollars” Very well put. It is frustrating to read comments about “ our heroes who give our lives to protect our freedom”, when our freedoms are being piecemeal torn to shreds daily. I do understand that people who have lost sons, daughters, fathers and spouses sent to foreign wars have a need to rationalize their deaths and maimings.

Aditi G.
Aditi Ganguly5 years ago

this is sick.releasing her is the very least that they can do

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

Ameer T. sorry I didn't read far enough. I agree.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

Ameer T. No the exact opposite has occurred. Very little poppies were grown under the Taliban who outlawed the drugs. Now that we have gotten rid of the Taliban there is more opium than ever grown in Afghanistan. More than ever before.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

Is this what our country is fighting for in afganistan? nothing is going to change over there.

Ameer T.
Ameer T5 years ago

But they did stop the Poppies didn't they? I dont care if someone grew them to put them in vases, they stopped. of course a country whose entire communication structure was destroyed would have taken sometime to get the message to farther areas. So time is not the question here. Effectiveness is.

If the Taliban were forceful about it we should all be with them on that one. Less of that poison in world would be all the better.